There is no chance that the Rio Olympics will be cancelled because of a Zika virus outbreak, Brazil has said. The authorities said there was no risk to athletes and spectators – except pregnant women – at the August event. Earlier, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned a disease linked to Zika posed a global public health emergency requiring a united response. The infection has been linked to cases of microcephaly, in which babies are born with underdeveloped brains. Experts are worried that the mosquito-borne virus in Latin America is spreading far and fast, with devastating consequences.
“We have to explain to those coming to Brazil, the athletes, that there is zero risk if you are not a pregnant woman,” Reuters quoted President Dilma Rousseff’s chief of staff Jaques Wagner as saying. President Rousseff earlier authorised health and sanitary inspectors to use force if necessary to gain access to private buildings, as part of the government’s efforts to eradicate breeding grounds for mosquitoes – especially stagnant waters. Inspectors are now able to call in the police if necessary, and more than 200,000 troops have been deployed to make such inspections. The Brazilian health ministry says about 25% of the country’s 49 million homes have so far been inspected.